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Technical Note

Locating and Dating Land Cover Change Events in the Renosterveld, a Critically Endangered Shrubland Ecosystem

1
Fynbos Node, South African Environmental Observation Network, Private Bag X7, Rhodes Drive, Claremont 7735, South Africa
2
Centre for Statistics in Ecology, Environment and Conservation, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(5), 834; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13050834
Received: 9 October 2020 / Revised: 2 November 2020 / Accepted: 14 November 2020 / Published: 24 February 2021
Land cover change is the leading cause of global biodiversity decline. New satellite platforms allow for monitoring of habitats in increasingly fine detail, but most applications have been limited to forested ecosystems. I demonstrate the potential for detailed mapping and accurate dating of land cover change events in a highly biodiverse, Critically Endangered, shrubland ecosystem—the Renosterveld of South Africa. Using supervised classification of Sentinel 2 data, and subsequent manual verification with very high resolution imagery, I locate all conversion of Renosterveld to non-natural land cover between 2016 and 2020. Land cover change events are further assigned dates using high temporal frequency data from Planet labs. A total area of 478.6 hectares of Renosterveld loss was observed over this period, accounting for 0.72% of the remaining natural vegetation in the region. In total, 50% of change events were dated to within two weeks of their actual occurrence, and 87% to within two months. The Renosterveld loss identified here is almost entirely attributable to conversion of natural vegetation to cropland through ploughing. Change often preceded the planting and harvesting seasons of rainfed annual grains. These results show the potential for new satellite platforms to accurately map land cover change in non-forest ecosystems, and detect change within days of its occurrence. There is potential to use this and similar datasets to automate the process of change detection and monitor change continuously. View Full-Text
Keywords: land cover monitoring; change detection; threatened ecosystems; Sentinel 2; planet labs; Cape Floristic region land cover monitoring; change detection; threatened ecosystems; Sentinel 2; planet labs; Cape Floristic region
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MDPI and ACS Style

Moncrieff, G.R. Locating and Dating Land Cover Change Events in the Renosterveld, a Critically Endangered Shrubland Ecosystem. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 834. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13050834

AMA Style

Moncrieff GR. Locating and Dating Land Cover Change Events in the Renosterveld, a Critically Endangered Shrubland Ecosystem. Remote Sensing. 2021; 13(5):834. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13050834

Chicago/Turabian Style

Moncrieff, Glenn R. 2021. "Locating and Dating Land Cover Change Events in the Renosterveld, a Critically Endangered Shrubland Ecosystem" Remote Sensing 13, no. 5: 834. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13050834

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